Concurrent Causation and Hurricane Claims in Florida

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Concurrent Causation is one of those insurance terms that you may not understand. Still, if you experience it under your homeowner’s policy, you may wish you had learned more about it sooner. This is how the Florida Supreme Court saw it in a legal case of a homeowner who experienced leaks in his house caused by faulty design and construction defects, only to have more damage to his home during Hurricane Irma. According to the court: “when independent perils converge and no single cause can be considered the sole or proximate cause, it is appropriate to apply the concurring cause doctrine.” In plain language, that means if two perils (hazards or events that are the source of property damage or loss) occur, and under your policy, one peril is covered and one is not, your insurer is responsible for covering the damage under an all-risk policy.

Would you be covered in a similar circumstance? Knowing what is in your policy—especially what is covered and what is not—is critical in protecting what is perhaps your most important investment: your home.

How to protect yourself from concurrent causation issues

While we all buy homeowner’s insurance to protect us from losses and damages to our residence and the assets it contains, it’s also true that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. It is vitally important in Florida – where a home can be “concurrently” damaged by, for instance, wind and rain – that you read your policy and make sure you’ll be covered if you have a problem. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Identify the cause of any damage: Make sure that you know what caused the damage and what other “cause” may have triggered additional damages.
  • See if your policy has an anti-concurrent causation clause: Because it can cost the insurance companies money when they have to cover a concurrent causation claim, many now add this clause to preclude covering losses or damages that occurred concurrently. Hurricanes offer a good example: High winds caused damage to your home, and that may be covered, but damage caused by water isn’t. Under anti-concurrent causation, your claim may be denied altogether. Note that anti-concurrent causation clauses are often hard to understand and ambiguous. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to have an experienced attorney review your policy.
  • Purchase multiple policies: At the very least, make sure you purchase flood insurance separately as it is almost never included in your homeowner’s insurance. You can get flood insurance through the federal government or through a private insurer.
  • Compare coverage with other hurricane victims in your community: It’s about more than shopping around for the best price. Talk to your neighbors about what type of coverage they have, if they’ve had a claim denied, how easy it was (or wasn’t) to deal with their insurance company and what their overall experience was like.

Talk to an attorney with experience helping homeowner’s with Florida concurrent causation and hurricane claims

Few things are more perplexing than trying to understand your homeowner’s policy—especially when you need it most. We can help ensure that your claim is paid and that you are fairly compensated for damages in hurricanes. To learn more, call the Orlando hurricane damage lawyers at Johnson & Williams, P.A. at  (407) 245-1268, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs.